After 6 hours of debate, the Senate passed Paid Family and Medical Leave legislation. The bill creates a quasi-public agency to oversee the funds gathered from a .5% tax on payroll, and funds up to 12 weeks of paid time off for an individual in need of time away from work. The bill passed with a margin of 21 to 15. Gov. Ned Lamont has already come forward to say that in its current form, he would veto the bill, putting a damper on what Senate Democratic leaders have called a major legislative victory.
Under current FMLA laws, a company with 75 or more employees must offer paid time off, but this bill would extend FMLA to all private employees. Payroll deductions would begin Oct. 1, 2020, and paid leave would begin Jan. 1, 2022. The Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated that funding an agency to administer the program would cost $18.6 million a year, which would come out of the payroll deduction.
During the Senate debate, Democrats emphasized the benefits that Paid Family and Medical Leave would provide. “This bill will provide working families with time off to take care of their kids with wage replacement, so that they don’t have to pick between their family members and a paycheck,” remarked Sen. Julie Kushner. Republicans attacked the idea of a state-administered program of this magnitude as unnecessary and unwieldy.
Governor Lamont ran on a platform that included the passage of a paid FMLA program. He has threatened to veto the bill because of its creation of a new quasi-public entity to oversee the program. Governor Lamont would prefer to put oversight of the program out to bid to an insurance carrier.